Monday, May 25, 2015

Arabic Male Names And Arabic Female Names That Begin With "Sh" or "Ch"

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest Revision: June 4, 2021

This pancocojams post presents a partial list of Arabic names that begin with the prefix "sh" or "ch".

This post also includes other Arabic names that include the letters "sh" or the letters "ch". 

[Note: June 4, 2021] I'm interested in this topic because a lot of contemporary African American names begin with "sh" or include "sh". I wondered if Arabic names had/have anything to do with this  spelling/sound preference. My conclusion is that Arabic names (sometimes with adapted spellings) have influenced this African American naming custom.

The Addendum to this post provides about the history of Islam in the United States among Black people in the United States from the late 17th century until the 19th century and theafterwards, These excerpts are presented because my guess is that this long presence of Islam among Black Americans probably contributed to the development of certain African American sound preferences in personal names and nicknames.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural and linguistic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for the pancocojams post entitled "Swahili & Igbo Names That Begin With "Sh" or "Ch".

Also, click for the pancocojams post entitled "Jamaican Names That Begin with "Ch" or "Sh".

From [This page no longer exists.]
[Male names]
Sha'ban - Eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar
Shadi - Singer, enchanter
Shadin - Fawn, young deer
Shafi - Mediator
Shafiq, Shafeeq - Kind, compassionate, tender
Shahid - Witness
Shahin - Hawk
Shahir - Well-known, famous
Shakib - Present, gift, reward
Shakir - Thankful
Shams al Din - Sun of the faith
Shamal - Wind that comes from the north
Shamil - All comprehensive
Shamim - Fragrant
Sharaf - Honor
Sharif, Shareef - Honest, honorable, noble, distinguished
Shawqi - Affectionate
Shihab - Flame, blaze
Shihab al Din - Star of the Faith
Shihad - Honey
Shu'aib, Shu'ayb - A Prophet's name
Shukri - Thankfulness
Shumayl - Complete

From  [This page no longer exists.]
[Female names]
Shadan - Young gazelle
Shadha, Shadhaa - Aroma
Shadhiyah - Aromatic
Shadiyah - Singer
Shafiqah - Compassionate, sympathetic
Shahd - Honey, honeycomb
Shahidah - Witness
Shahirah - Well-known, famous
Shahlah - Blush
Shahrazad - Teller of "Tales of 1,001 Nights"
Shakirah - Thankful
Shamilah - Complete, comprehensive
Shams - Sun
Sharifah, Shareefa, Sherrifah - Noble, honored
Shawq - Longing
Shayma, Shaymaa - to look out
Shifa' - Curing, healing
Shimah - Nature, habit
Shiyam - Nature, character
Shudun - Powerful, straight
Shuhrah - Fame, reputation
Shukrah - Thankfulness
Shukriyah - Of thanks
Shuruq - Rising, shining

[This list includes all of the names that fit this description. It appears to me that only a few of those names are actually used in the United States since the late 1960s.]

Modern Muslim Boy Names dictionary starting with letter 'A' and their meanings in a simple and easy to navigate format. The list comprises of Unique Islamic boy baby names from the holy Quran for [the] alphabet that are popular across the world.

Aashif -  Courageous
Aatish -  Purifying, Brilliance
Arshad - Honest
Ashur  -  A month in the Islamic calender
Ashfaq - Noble prince
Baashir - Bringer of good news
Basha -   Stranger
Bashar - Bringer of glad tidiings
Basho -  Banana Plant
Bishr -   Joy
Bushr  - Joy, Happiness
Chafik - Sympathising
Chahid - Wintness
Chahli -  Merriment, Pleasantry
Chaini -  Gorgeous
Chakir -  The chosen one
Chamali -The one who serves water
Chams - Sun
Chan -   Light
Changez - Solid
Changeez - Name of King
Chaker - Thanking
Challita -Cool
Chanan - God was Compassionate, Cloud
Chanda - God's Compassion, Fierce, Passionate, Violent
Chantz  - Good fortune
Charagh -  Lamp, Light
Chash  -  Sweet
Chaviv -  Loved one
Chawki - Pleasant
Cheherazad -   Funny
Chessy - Peaceful
Chelem - Dream
Chezian - Graceful
Chiragh - Lamp, Light
Chishti  - Famous Saint whose Dargah is at Ajmer
Chinar -  A Tree
Chrishan - Awakened, Almighty Lord
Chrim -  Generous
Chokri -  blessed
Daaneesh - Knowledge, Wisdom
Gasheen - Good
Haanish - One who is delighted
Haanish - One who is delighted
Irshad - Wisdom
Ishan -  Compassion
Ishaaq - A prophet's name
Ishir -Another name for agni
Ishaam - Promise
Ishmael - God listens
Janasheen -  Successor
Kaashif - Discoverer
Kashan - Place of rulers
Ma'shooq - Beloved
Naashir - Helper
Naashit - Energetic, Dynamic, Fresh
Parishad - Joyous
Raashid - Intelligent
Shaafi  - Pure
Shaida  - Greatly Attached
Shahid - Honey
Shadi  -  Singer
Shah Jahan  -  King of the world
Shaheem -  Intelligent
Shahan Shah - King of kings
Shakib - Patience
Shakib - Patience
Shakil -  Handsome
Shakir -  Thankful, grateful
Shaquille - Handsome
Shakir -  Thankful
Shameel - Beautiful
Sharif-   Noble
Shariq -Bright
Shahalad -  Joy
Shoaib  -Who shows the right path
Taanish -Good
Tabish - Brilliancy
Talish  -  Lord of the earth, Mountain
Tanish -  Beautiful,Ambition
Tash   -   King of Heart
Tavish -  Ocean, Gold, Heaven, Brilliant

[This list includes all of the names that fit this description. It appears to me that only a few of those names are actually used in the United States since the late 1960s.]


Modern Muslim Girl Baby Names dictionary starting with letter 'A' and their meanings in a simple and easy to navigate format. The list comprises of Unique Islamic girl baby names from the holy Quran for [the] alphabet that are popular across the world.

A'shadieeyah -  Princess, Perfect, Cute
Aaeesha -  Life, Living Prosperous
Aaisha -  Prosperous
Abisha - Gift of god
Aisha -   Life
Alesha - Protected by god
Alisha  -  Protected by God
Alishba - Pretty
Amisha - A princess
Aresha - Under an umbrella
Arisha -  Highness
Arshin -  Pious
Aroush - Angel of paradise
Ashalina -  Sweet
Ashika -  Love
Aysha -   Love
Ayesha - Well-of
Beenish -Genius, Intelligent
Binesh - Clever
Binish -  Clever,Intelligent
Bisharah -A narrator of Hadith
Bushra - Good omen
Busrah - Glad tidings,Good news
Chaesha -  Bright, Beautiful
Chaaya -Shadow
Chadia - Gracious
Chafika -To Tend
Chamini - Love like Ocean
Chaan  - Beloved
Chaand - Garden
Chahra - Notoriety
Chaka -   A Lark,Life,Energy Centre
Chakama -   Poem
Chakori -Charming
Chaman -  Garden
Chameli -  Jasmine
Chamis-  Sun
Champa -  A Flower
Chanchal -  Active
Chanda - Bright
Chandni -  Moonlight
Chandra -  Moon
Charmi - Beautiful
Charu  - Beautiful
Chasheen - Sweet
Cheena -Pure white marble
Chellam -  Pampered
Chafia  - look after
Charugna  -  Moon
Chessy - At Peace
Chhavi  -Reflection
Chereena -  Beloved,Beautiful
Chiraz - Light
Chiti  -  Love
Choti   - Little,Small
Chunni - Star
ChudarOli -Brilliant
Daleesha -  Delight
Daisha -  Alive
Darakhshaan - Shining
Delisha - Drop
Derafshan - Spread-out pearls
Desheya  -  Good day
Dewar-ul-Shams -  Sunflower
Dilshad - Cheerful
Dursheka - Life
Elisha - Friend
Ereshva -Righteous
Esha'al - Protected by god
Eshal -  Name of a flower in heaven
Eshna -   Desire
Eshmaal - Bunch of red roses
Faisha  - A blessing of all
Falisha - Happiness
Farisha - Light
Ghuncha - Bunch of flowers
Grishma -  Summer season
Gulabsha - Beautiful
Gulafshan - Flower
Gulfisha -Sweet smiling
Hishma -Modesty
Hubasheea - Eagle
Humisha - Godess Saraswathi
Ilisha - Queen Of The Earth
Insha - Creation
Inshirah - Relief
Isha - One who protects
Isha  - Night Prayer
Ishana - Ricch
Ishrat -  Happy
Ishaml - Flower
Ishaal - Heaven's Flower
Ishya  -  Spring
Ja'isha - Excellent
Kadshah  - Companion
Kaamisha -  A happy soul
Kashida - Hardworking
Kashfia - To make it Evident
Kashish - Attraction
Kashifa - Reveler Of Secrets
Kashira - Jubilant
Kashooda -Attractive
Laisha  - Prosperous,Angel
Lakhsha - Glittering
Lakeshia -   Alive
Lashirah - Very Intelligent
Lekeisha -   Woman
Lekisha - Life,Woman
Lisha  - Fortunate Women
Oishi - Divine
Omysha -  Smile
Osheen - Shinning,Beautiful
Oshna -  Fragrance
Raashida - Wise, Mature, Intelligent, Sober
Rasheedah  - Intelligent
Rasheeqeh -  Happy
Rashida - Intelligent
Rashifah -  Friend
Resham -Silk
Reshaqet - Beautiful
Reshma - Golden silk
Rifsheh - Broad
Rimsha - Bunch of flowers
Roshen - Bright
Roshena - Brightened
Roshini - Light


In the late 1960s some African Americans were very interested in finding lists of African names so that we could change our "slave names" (European or Hebrew language birth names) to "free names" (names from Arabic or traditional African languages.) In those early days of the Black power movement with its interest in African cultures there was no internet and lists of African names were hard to come by. I recall people in the Committee For Unified Newark, (the cultural nationalist group that I belonged to which eventually was headed by poet, playwright, activist Amiri Baraka, formerly Le Roi Jones), sharing mimeographed (reprinted) copies of African names that we happened to come by. Many of those names were from the Arabic language and others were from KiSwahili, which is largly based on Arabic.

I doubt that the history of Africans who were Muslims and who were enslaved in the United States consciously contributed to African Americans' preference for certain sounds for personal names and nicknames. However, I believe that long forgotten history helped develop some of those sound preferences

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, African Americans who were interested in changing their names to an African name were more likely to find Arabic names than any other African continent names. Those name were considered very acceptable "free names" for afro-centric African Americans, whether we were Muslim or not. The conversion of several African American celebrities (particularly athletes and Jazz musicians) to Islam was only one reason why Arabic names became known to African Americans. Two African American jazz musicians who changed their names to Arabic names (prior to the 1980s) because of their conversion to Islam or another reason or reasons are Yusef Lateef and Rahshaan Roland Kirk. Two African American athletes who changed their names to Arabic names are Mohammad Ali and Kareem Adul Jabbar.

It's my belief that the large subset of 19th century and, in particular, 20th & 21st century distinctive Black (African American) names that begin with "sh" or "ch" can be at least partially explained by
1. the existence of a large number of Arabic names and traditional African language names that begin with one of those sounds

2. the existence of mainstream American names and distinctive Black American names that begin with or includes "sh" or "ch" prior to and after the late 1960s (when a number of African Americans began to consciously select non-European and non-Hebrew names for themselves and their children)


3. the presence of Arabic names with those sounds by fictitious characters and by real people prior to and after the  late 1960s.

"Islam has been a piece of the American religious fabric since the first settlers arrived in North America.

While we do not know exactly how many African Muslims were enslaved and transported to the New World, there are clues in legal doctrines, slaveholders’ documents, and existing cultural and religious traditions. African Muslims were caught in the middle of complicated social and legal attitudes from the very moment they landed on our Eastern shores, and collections at the [Smithsonian] Museum help provide insight into their lives.

I knew several [people] who must have been, from what I have since learned, Mohamedans [Muslims]; though at that time, I had never heard of the religion of Mohamed. There was one man on this plantation … who prayed five times every day, always turning his face to the east, when in the performance of his devotion.

African Muslims were an integral part of creating America from mapping its borders to fighting against British rule. Muslims first came to North America in the 1500s as part of colonial expeditions. One of these explorers, Mustafa Zemmouri (also known as Estevanico), was sold by the Portuguese into slavery in 1522. While enslaved by Spanish conquistador Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Estevanico became one of the first Africans to set foot on the North American continent. He explored Florida and the Gulf Coast, eventually traveling as far west as New Mexico.

African Muslims also fought alongside colonists during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Multiple men with Muslim names appear on the military muster rolls, including Bampett Muhamed, Yusuf ben Ali (also known as Joseph Benhaley), and Joseph Saba. Other men listed on muster rolls have names that are likely connected to Islamic practice, such as Salem Poor and Peter Salem, whose names may reflect a form of the Arabic salaam, meaning peace. These men often distinguished themselves on the battlefield.

The founding fathers were aware of Islam and the presence of Muslims in America. Thomas Jefferson, who owned a copy of the Quran, included Islam in many of his early writings and political treatises.... Jefferson was not the only statesman who recognized religions other than Christianity in his work. However, their knowledge of and theoretical openness to Islam did not stop them from enslaving African Muslims."...

2. From book review A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said
by Omar Ibn Said (Author), Ala Alryyes (Editor), July 20, 2011
"Born to a wealthy family in West Africa around 1770, Omar Ibn Said was abducted and sold into slavery in the United States, where he came to the attention of a prominent North Carolina family after filling “the walls of his room with piteous petitions to be released, all written in the Arabic language,” as one local newspaper reported. Ibn Said soon became a local celebrity, and in 1831 he was asked to write his life story, producing the only known surviving American slave narrative written in Arabic.

In A Muslim American Slave, scholar and translator Ala Alryyes offers both a definitive translation and an authoritative edition of this singularly important work, lending new insights into the early history of Islam in America and exploring the multiple, shifting interpretations of Ibn Said’s narrative by the nineteenth-century missionaries, ethnographers, and intellectuals who championed it."...

3. From
"The Nation of Islam, abbreviated NOI, is an African American political and religious movement, founded in Detroit, Michigan, United States, by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad on July 4, 1930.[2] Its stated goals are to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States and all of humanity.[3] Critics have described the organization as being black supremacist[4] and antisemitic.[5][6][7] The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks the NOI as a hate group.[8][9] Its official newspaper is The Final Call. In 2007, the core membership was estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000.[1]

Fard disappeared in June 1934. His successor Elijah Muhammad established places of worship (called temples or mosques), a school named Muhammad University of Islam, farms, and real estate holdings in the United States and abroad.[10]

...There were a number of splits and splinter groups during Elijah Muhammad's leadership, most notably the departure of senior leader Malcolm X to become a Sunni Muslim. After Elijah Muhammad's death in 1975, his son, Warith Deen Mohammed, changed the name of the organization to "World Community of Islam in the West" (and twice more after that), and attempted to convert it to a mainstream Sunni Muslim ideology.[12]

In 1977, Louis Farrakhan rejected Warith Deen Mohammed's leadership and re-established the Nation of Islam on the original model. He took over the Nation of Islam's headquarters temple, Mosque Maryam (Mosque #2) in Chicago, Illinois."...
I believe that members who followed Warith Deen Mohammed's leadership were/are particularly likely to adopt Arabic names and give those names to their children.

"The Moorish Science Temple of America is an American national and religious organization founded by Noble Drew Ali.


The Moorish Science Temple of America was incorporated under the Illinois Religious Corporation Act 805 ILCS 110. Timothy Drew, known to its members as Prophet Noble Drew Ali, founded the Moorish Science Temple of America in 1913 in Newark, New Jersey, a booming industrial city. After some difficulties, Ali moved to Chicago, establishing a center there, as well as temples in other major cities. The movement expanded rapidly during the late 1920s. The quick expansion of the Moorish Science Temple arose in large part from the search for identity and context among black Americans at the time of the Great Migration to northern and midwestern cities, as they were becoming an urbanized people.[2]

Competing factions developed among the congregations and leaders, especially after the death of the charismatic Ali. Three independent organizations developed from this ferment. The founding of the Nation of Islam by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930 also created competition for members. In the 1930s membership was estimated at 30,000, with one third in Chicago. During the postwar years, the Moorish Science Temple of America continued to increase in membership, albeit at a slower rate.”...
Disclaimer: I've never been a member of either the Moorish Science Temple or the Nation of Islam (or its off-shoots). I also have never attended any services of these organizations.

Prior to high school, I don't recall knowing or seeing any Muslims. I only have a cloudy recollection of one African American male named Abdul in my high school (which was the only public high school in Atlantic City and which had 3,000 students when I graduated in 1969). I don't recall any female students wearing hijab, but I believe that there were a few other Muslim students in "my" high school who were members of the same family or were cousins. For what it's worth, I recall that these males were light skinned. I think that they were Sunni Muslims, but I'm not sure about that.

I first became somewhat familiar with the Moorish Science Temple when I moved to East Orange, New Jersey (near Newark, New Jersey) in 1965. I also have known some members of the Moorish Science Temple since I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1969.

I believe that people who are members of the Moorish Science Temple adopt (or have from birth) a Bey, El, or Ali surname (My experience is that the "El" surname is used with the European biological surname hyphenated, example "Owens-El".

My experience is that some members of the Moorish Science Temple, have Arabic names from birth or were given/selected Arabic names when they joined that organization.

I'm not aware of any book of African names that was published before The Book of African Names (As Told by Chief Osuntoki) was published in 1970. In 1972 another book of African names was published - Names from Africa: Their Origin, Meaning, and Pronunciation by Ogonna Chuks-orji helped introduce African Americans to names from traditional African languages.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE HISTORY OF ISLAM (and therefore, the Arabic language) IN AFRICA

"Africa was the first continent, outside of Arabia that Islam spread into in the early 7th century. Almost one-third of the world's Muslim population resides in this continent...

Spread of Islam in Africa

On the advice of Muhammad, in Rajab 8BH, or May 614AD, twenty three Muslims migrated to Abyssinia where they were protected by its king, Al-Najashi, who also accepted Islam later. They were followed by 101 Muslims later in the same year. By Muharram 7H, or May 628AD, all those Muslims returned to Medina, but locals who embraced Islam remained there. In 20H/641AD during the reign of Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab, Muslim troops took over current Egypt and conquered current Libya the following year. Muslims then expanded to current Tunisia in 27H/647AD during the reign of the third Muslim Caliph, Othman bin Affan. The conquest of North Africa continued under the Umayyad dynasty, taking Algeria by 61H/680AD, and Morocco the following year. From the latter Muslim troops crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Europe in 711. Islam gained momentum during the tenth century in West Africa with the start of the Almoravids movement on the Senegal River and as rulers and kings embraced Islam.[citation needed] Islam then spread slowly in much of the continent through trade and preaching.[4] By the ninth century Muslim Sultanates started being established in the Horn of Africa, and by the 12th century the Kilwa Sultanate had spread as far south as Mozambique. Islam only crossed deeper into Malawi and Congo in the second half of the nineteenth century under the Zanzibar Sultanate. Then the British brought their labor force from India, including some Muslim Indian nationals, to their African colonies towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries."
That Wikipedia article indicates that "African Islam is not static and is constantly being reshaped by prevalent social, economic, and political conditions. Generally Islam in Africa often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems forming Africa's own orthodoxies. [2]"
-end of quote-
Among those African adaptations are examples of certain Arabic derived personal names. For instance, in the Wolof language of Senegal, West Africa "Aminata" is the form of the Arabic female name "Amina" and "Abdou" is the form of the Arabic male name "Abdul".

Also, here's a brief excerpt from "Top 10 Yoruba Names You Never Guessed Were Arabic Names." by idumuose(m): 2:02pm On Jul 13, 2014
"I have always been fascinated by Yoruba people’s creative morphological domestication of Arabic names. There are scores of Yoruba names that are derived from Arabic but which are barely recognizable to Arabs or other African Muslims because they have taken on the structural features of the Yoruba language.

This is not unique to Yoruba, of course. As scholars of onomastics or onomatology know only too well, when proper names leave their primordial shores to other climes they, in time, are often liable to local adaptation.

(Onomastics or onomatology is the scientific study of the origins, forms, conventions, history and uses of proper names. Anthroponomastics specifically studies personal names, so this article is an anthroponamastic analysis of Yoruba Muslim names).

That’s why, for instance, there are many Arabic-derived personal names in Hausa, the most Arabized ethnic group in Nigeria, that would be unrecognizable to Arabs. Names like Mamman (Muhammad), Lawan (Auwal), Shehu (Sheikh), etc. would hardly make much sense to an Arab."...

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